The 25 Richest People in New Mexico
NAMES ON THIS PAGE
6. Thompson Hughes Lang
William Pepperday Lang
7. Lonnie Allsup
8. E.W. (Rich) Richardson
9. Galles family
10. John S. Rendall
From CROSSWINDS, New Mexico’s largest alternative newspaper
6. THOMPSON HUGHES LANG
and WILLIAM PEPPERDAY LANG
Albuquerque and Corrales
Albuquerque Journal, Journal Center, Starline Printing, inheritance
$120 million combined
In 1971, Tommy Lang was supervising the installation of a new engraving plant at a newspaper in Hollywood, FL, when the phone rang. His father, Albuquerque Journal publisher C. Thompson Lang, had just dropped dead of a heart attack while watching the tube at his Albuquerque home. A college dropout, the 23-year-old Lang became publisher of New Mexico's largest and most influential newspaper, which had been purchased by a great uncle in 1926. Younger brother Bill eventually joined the business.
Since then the two, whose families, according to federal filings, now split ownership of the paper 50-50, have benefited from New Mexico's population growth and their own careful attention to management. Bucking national trends, the Journal's daily circulation has risen 61% from 70,000 in 1971 to 113,000 today. Sunday circulation -- the real money -- has gone up 76% from 96,000 to nearly 169,000. However, over the past few years circulation growth has been flat despite population increases.
Under a 63-year-old pact that runs well into the 21st century, the Langs in effect must give 40 percent of their considerable profits to E.W. Scripps Co., the Cincinnati-based owner of The Albuquerque Tribune. In return the Langs get 60 percent of the far smaller Tribune's profits -- if there are any. But cry not for the brothers. They more than make up for this with a federally sanctioned monopoly that enables them to set advertising and subscription prices with The Tribune and charge far more than they could if the papers were economically independent and competitive.
Tommy Lang, 49, clearly pulls the levers at the Journal -- he once said no political candidate gets an editorial endorsement without his approval. But even news industry publications have called him the "stealth publisher," due to his extremely low profile on the public and political scene. Some date this to the mid-1980s when famed lawyer F. Lee Bailey sued him and the Journal for libel on behalf of Albuquerque lawyer William Marchiondo, who claimed the paper portrayed him as an unsavory character. Bailey tried to paint Lang as a power hungry bully. But the youthful published scored a smashing victory when a Las Cruces jury cleared the paper.
Lang also spends time working on Journal Center, his 300-acre-plus commercial real estate development at I-25 and Paseo del Norte where the paper's headquarters are now located. This, of course, has no connection with the fact that Journal Center projects get an awful lot of attention in the Journal's business pages. Lang is also a pilot, which may be why the Journal is one of the few newspapers in the country to have a corporate jet. (He personally flew reporters to cover the Oklahoma City bombing.)
Although a vice president of the parent Albuquerque Journal Co., Bill Lang, 47, runs Starline Printing, a national printing company that the family bought in 1985. He, too, keeps a low profile. The brothers have other business interests around town. Totally keeping in character, neither the "stealth publisher" nor his brother responded to our request for comment.
7. LONNIE ALLSUP, Clovis
Allsup's Convenience Stores
In 1956 the Texas-native Allsup and his wife, Barbara, borrowed $6,500 to open Lonnie's Drive-in Grocery in Roswell. With Barbara doing the bookkeeping in their bedroom, Lonnie implemented features like cooked food, extended business hours and top placement for high-traffic items. As business boomed, Allsup expanded into other small cities during the opening decade of what we now call the convenience-store industry.
In 1964 Allsup sold his 12-store chain to 7-Eleven owner Southland Corp. of Dallas in a deal that netted him nifty $250,000, a pretty good return on his small investment. But what looks like an extremely weak non-compete clause enabled him to restart his business a few years later 100 miles away in Clovis.
As one convenience store chain after another took the bankruptcy chapter -- 7-Eleven, Circle K, Stop 'n' Go -- Allsup prospered through niche marketing and careful attention to costs. Part ownership of a co-operative food warehouse allows him to sell goods at slightly lower prices. Soon his chain was bigger than ever. Still growing, it now numbers 310 stores in New Mexico--including a bunch in Roswell--Texas and Oklahoma.
While Lonnie runs the chain, the company is more than a one-person band. Barbara is the corporation's financial vice president. Son Mark is the chain's operations manager.
Now 62, Lonnie gives the good life. He has several ranches in New Mexico and Texas, dozens and dozens of horses (he is currently president of the National Cutting Horse Association) and even a chain of five radio stations, including two in hometown Clovis.
We estimate the company's annual revenues at $180 million. "You can use that number," says Lonnie. "That would be fine."
8. E.W. (RICH) RICHARDSON, Albuquerque
Rich Ford, investments
Here's a fellow who keeps a surprisingly low profile considering a diminutive of his name is on the door of a very prominent business. Richardson retired some time ago from active management of his Albuquerque car dealerships, which include the flagship -- and aptly named -- Rich Ford, plus outlets selling Kia, Mazda and Suburu plus dealerships in other cities. It's believed to be the largest car operation in New Mexico, an impressive credential in a state drowning in auto sales sludge.
After learning the business by running a used car lot, Richardson established Rich Ford Sales in 1961 and built it into one of the country's top Ford dealerships. Richardson Investments, a holding company, is involved in financial services endeavors, including insurance and warranty protection. Over the years it has topped several lists of the state's largest privately held companies. Rivals say the 75-year-old Richardson has been especially successful at attracting and keeping talented managers.
Richardson's influence is everywhere on the New Mexico car scene. Fifteen years ago he sold Casey Luna his first car dealership in Belen. Bob (``No Bull'') Turner left as Richardson's top aide to take over a faltering Ford dealership a little way down Lomas Blvd. NE.
After Richardson objected last year, The Albuquerque Tribune did not pursue an article about individual residential water usage that might have mentioned him, owner of one of the newspaper's biggest advertisers. Tribune editor Scott Ware, who says that at the time he ``barely knew'' who Richardson was, said the project was dropped because it didn't seem fair to single out individuals. Richardson, he added, was one of several persons who complained.
We wanted to ask Richardson about all this, but he did not return our call.
9. GALLES FAMILY, Albuquerque
Car dealerships, ad agency
TWO SIDES OF THE COIN
This seems to be a family with two distinct fortunes. H.L. ``Hickum'' Galles, and his son, Rick, own the Galles Motor Company. It's been around in one incarnation or another since 1908 when Hickum's dad, a mechanic named Herbert Galles, brought some of those new-fangled things called automobiles to Albuquerque. In 1933 the company switched to Chevrolets after the death of a previous dealer, operating from a Central Avenue sales lot adjoining the University of New Mexico. Decades later the family business moved to Lomas Blvd. NE. It's thought to be the state's second-largest dealership and sells nearly half of all Cheveys in New Mexico.
Many people recognize the Galles name through the family's ventures in auto racing, led by hot rodder Rick. He founded Galles Racing International in 1983 to compete in the Championship Auto Racing Team with rookie driver Al Unser Jr. (see below). Galles Racing now sponsors rookie driver Eddie Lawson, but the future may soon turn to a fourth-generation -- Rick Galles son, Jamie, who is now racing in the Indy Lights series.
We value this branch of the family at $25 million but couldn't get comment.
A separate stash of wealth belongs to Lee Galles, son of Hickum and brother of Rick. In 1968 he left the family car dealership to go it alone. ``It's a touchy subject that I don't want to talk about,'' Lee says. He started with an Oldsmobile dealership on San Mateo Blvd. NE and later expanded into Lexus, Subaru and Isuzu. Today, Lee Galles Oldsmobile-Isuzu-Lexus is one of state's top 10 dealerships.
But the majority of Lee Galles' wealth appears to lie in Competitive Edge, the advertising agency he started in 1974. The company averages around $50 million in annual revenues, mostly by placing ads nationally for the car business, and is by far the largest in New Mexico. With several out-of-state offices, Competitive Edge was the first non-New York or Detroit agency to get a significant chunk of General Motors' advertising budget.
The firm prides itself for a contrarian approach to public opinion. As an executive once told The Albuquerque Tribune, ``If people are doing long-term campaigns, we're doing short-term campaigns. If people are screaming, we're whispering. If they're doing television, we're doing radio.''
Galles himself, a much sought-after speaker, is the author of 14 books on marketing strategies, with titles like Every Day: A Dealer's Book. One thing he won't expound on is his own wealth, which we peg at $35 million. ``I don't want to get into profit margins," he says.
10. JOHN S. RENDALL, Albuquerque
CEO Solv-Ex Corp.
The fastest way to become a millionaire, goes the old joke, is to start out as a multi-millionaire. It can't be terribly funny, though, to Rendall, the CEO of controversial Solv-Ex Corp. That's the Albuquerque oil technology company with no profits but a big stock market valuation.
In January, when Solv-Ex's stock soared to $38, Rendall's 3.1 million shares were worth a hefty $119 million. Then short-sellers -- investors betting that a stock price will go down -- intensified their questioning of Solv-Ex's claims that it has nifty new technology to get oil out of difficult-to-work tar-sand deposits in Alberta, Canada. The stock price fell as low as $6.25 before rising somewhat dramatically to a recent $16.75. That values Rendall's stake at about $52 million -- an average drop of almost $2 million each week this year. News reports said federal securities regulators have been looking into allegations of stock price manipulation and corporate connections with unsavory characters. Solv-Ex denies any improprieties.
Still, the fact that Solv-Ex is still around amounts to something of a testimonial to the salesmanship skills of Rendall, who founded the company in 1980. Solv-Ex exists these days on sale of stock to investors with an extremely high tolerance for risk. Or else they believe ads like the one that Rendall ran last month over his name in Investor's Business Daily. ``You've Probably Never Heard of Us,'' the text declared. ``You Soon Will Because our Technology Will Reduce American Dependence On Middle East Oil.'' The capitalization was his.
Rendall's spokesman did not return our call.